Speaker Yakubu Dogara has picked the nomination form to return to the House of Representatives on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, multiple sources familiar with the development have told PREMIUM TIMES.
The speaker picked the form on Wednesday, a day after dozens of his constituents traveled to Abuja from his home state of Bauchi.
Mr Dogara told his constituents during the rally, which held at his residence in Abuja Tuesday, that he all but threw in the towel on partisan politics — having served 12 years at the House, four out of which he spent as Speaker — but their overwhelming demand forced his hands to continue his lawmaking career.
“Some people said they will retire us from politics, but we want to inform them that only God and the electorate can retire us,” Mr Dogara said in an apparent reference to his state governor Mohammed Abubakar, with whom he had been locked in a fierce battle of wits over 2019 electioneering.
Mr Dogara’s dispute with his APC state governor typifies similar patterns in many APC governed states including Kano, Ogun, Kaduna, Jigawa, Oyo and so on. In many of such states, the lawmakers defected from the governing party with the belief the governors would eventually have their way in the party. Only in few instances like in Kaduna did the federal lawmakers choose to remain in the APC and battle it out with the governor.
Mr Dogara has apparently now chosen to leave the APC.
The Bauchi politician was first elected to the parliament in 2007 as a member of the PDP, Nigeria’s ruling party from 1999-2015. He defected to the APC in 2014 as part of the new-PDP bloc that revolted ahead of the 2015 elections.
The loss of the new-PDP bloc to the APC was considered a major factor responsible for the defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan and the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as the first opposition flag-bearer to defeat an incumbent in the country’s post-independence history.
Mr Dogara did not say through which political party he would run when he addressed his loyalists Tuesday, a development that tormented top APC politicians, according to one of them who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night.
“He has picked up a PDP nomination form,” a source close to the Speaker told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night. “They are filling it now and should be submitting it by Thursday.”
The disclosure was corroborated by another top PDP official at the Wadata House Wednesday night.
“I can confirm it, he picked up the form already,” the official said under anonymity to avoid offending Mr Dogara, whom they described as “a new bride”.
The low-key affair under which Mr Dogara obtained his nomination form from the PDP follows a consistent pattern of his political style.
The Speaker has long been identified as amongst those expected to leave the APC, but he declined to make this public unlike Senate President Bukola Saraki and a host of other top APC politicians who abandoned the ruling party in recent months.
Mr Dogara was amongst APC chieftains who moved to polarise the party in early July, alleging unbridled marginalisation and frustrated by a reconciliation effort that was characterised by distrust between all parties.
Although Mr Dogara did not formally announce his defection to the PDP, his acquisition of the party’s form to run in his Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency next February has effectively made him a chieftain of the opposition party.
The loss appears the biggest since the ruling party lost Mr Saraki to the PDP late July. The senate president is now in the race for the opposition party’s presidential ticket in primaries scheduled for next month.
Kola Ologbondiyan, a spokesperson for the PDP, declined comments Wednesday night. A spokesperson for Mr Dogara did not immediately return calls for comments.